The 2021 French Open draw took place today behind closed doors and sees Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all drawn in the same half of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
Federer is returning to Roland Garros after missing last year's tournament due to his knee injury and will face a qualifier in his opening match.
You can see his projected opponents below.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: Denis Istomin
- Round 2: Marin Cilic
- Round 3: Taylor Fritz
- Round 4: Matteo Berrettini
- Quarter Final: Novak Djokovic
- Semi Final: Rafael Nadal
- Final: Dominic Thiem
Thoughts on the Draw
The first round sees Federer face off against Denis Istomin, who came through qualifying to make the main draw in Paris for the first time since 2018, having missed last years due to a positive covid test.
Federer holds a 7-0 record against the Uzbek, and surprisingly he also has more ATP match wins than him this season. That's because Istomin hasn't played a match on tour yet; instead, he's been on the Challenger circuit without much success.
Istomin is a solid ball striker, and we all remember his big win against Djokovic at the Australian Open in 2017. Still, clay is his worst surface, and he's not an elite mover, so it'd be a big surprise to see Federer come unstuck here.
Roger has been playing far better players in practice than Istomin, and while your results in practice don't count for much in the heat of battle, I expect him to come through in straight sets.
Round 2 likely sees Federer face long time friend and rival Marin Cilic. The Croat takes on local wildcard Arthur Rinderknech in the first round, who made the quarter-finals in Lyon last week, beating Jannik Sinner on the way.
That's not an easy match for Cilic, this is his worst Grand Slam, and he's coming in with a W4:L4 record during the clay swing, losing his last match to another wildcard, Dominic Stricker at the Geneva Open.
For the third round, Taylor Fritz is the 30th seed, and although he made the final here in the Juniors back in 2015, I don't really rate his clay game, so he'll need to play well to see off Joao Sousa in round 1, and then either Matthias Bourge (WC) or Dominik Koepfer in round two.
The last sixteen has Matteo Berrettini as the top seed, and he's a big favourite to come through that section. I can't see Kevin Anderson or Felix Auger-Aliassime doing too much damage, and no other names really stand out.
Djokovic is the number one seed in Federer's quarter, and he looked to be finding his feet in Rome and will likely win the title in Belgrade this week.
Nadal is, therefore, the top seed in the other quarter, and although he has a tricky opener against Popryrin, his draw looks fairly clear to the last four.
Depending on who Federer draws in round one, I think he can win three matches in Paris. Cilic doesn't move well enough these days and has always had mistakes in him.
Fritz has a pretty big serve and can reel off points quickly, but over five sets, assuming Fed is up to the task physically, I'd fancy him to move him around too much and come through.
The Other Half of the Draw
With the two big names in the top half, the bottom half presents a great opportunity for Thiem, Zverev and Tsitsipas to reach the final. Casper Ruud and Cristian Garin aren't too far behind either, so this is the more interesting half for the neutral.
You also have the likes of Fognini, Delbonis, Dimitrov, Carreno Busta, Isner, Korda, Raonic, Khachanov, Evans and Norrie all in this half so it's really wide open for someone to put together a deep run.
I'd pick Zverev to make the final given his draw, but Tsistipas isn't far behind. The questions marks are instead over Thiem, who has had a poor season so far, but if he can get on it mentally, you can't rule him out given his track record in Paris.
And finally, will Medvedev win a match in Paris? He faces Bublik in round one, which is the 🍿 match.
Federer's First Hit in Paris
Hitting with one of the players of 2021 so far, Aslan Karatsev.
What do you guys think of the draw? What can Federer do in Paris? Let me know in the comments.